Zenfone 6 – A True User Review After 70 Days!
Hello good people, I’m Dmitri from Hardware Canucks and I’ve been using the Zenfone 6 for the last 10 weeks. Who knew that ASUS would come out with such a killer smartphone. Personally, I’ve never used such a well-rounded Android device at this one, and I can’t believe the Zenfone 6 has gone under the radar for so long in a space where features are being removed from Pixel and OnePlus devices. It has a beautiful design, excellent camera, and tremendous battery life, but there are a few things we have to talk about that make this an imperfect smartphone.
Let’s get the basics out of the way for the Zenfone 6, there is a headphone jack with good quality output, a USB Type-C port for charging with the included 18W power adapter, the fingerprint sensor is fast and easy to find, there is a notification LED in the top right, fantastic clicky buttons on the right side, and since I have the Anniversary Edition model my power button is blue. There is also a smart key that activates Google Assistant or can be remapped to a few other features, my favorites include Do Not Disturb with a single click, double clicking for flashlight, and long press to take a screenshot. I have never seen such a large SIM card tray for dual SIMs and a microSD card, this addition will satisfy many I’m sure. The base model with a respectable 6GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage has a starting price of $499 USD, and because of this low price the Zenfone 6 feels like its almost too good to be true, but is it?
My three least favorite things about Zenfone 6 include the speaker, the volume is just not loud enough and I can never position the phone in a comfortable position beside my ear to hear what’s coming through. The vibration motor is also pretty weak, I can never feel it inside my pocket. And lastly the back is so slippery. It’s beautiful, but it’s also slippery in your hands even if you have a little bit of sweat. I have dropped this thing many times, luckily on the carpet, never on like concrete but it’s not a good experience.
Huge Notch-Less Display
Now I want to highlight all my favorite features, like this gorgeous notch-less display and the unique camera system that makes it all possible. The forehead is almost nonexistent yet it still has a speaker – jokes on you Pixel 4 XL – that looks to be the same size as the sides of the phone. There is no camera cutout, no hole punch, no notch, it’s just beautiful. However, the chin is slightly taller, but at least the rounded corners are consistent from top to bottom.
Obviously it is a big phone due to the 6.4-inch IPS screen that has 1080 x 2340 resolution, 600 nits of brightness, and HDR10 support. For media consumption this thing is incredible, and obviously gaming is also enjoyable. This massive screen-to-body ratio is possible because of the camera module, which can flip forward and give you excellent quality selfies when needed, but while staying out of sight when retracted. The mechanism is part mechanical when it flips up and it’s part magnetic when it goes back into the body. You can flip out the camera module if you flick the phone hard enough, but it does retract back into position when the camera app is not open. So far it has not been an inconvenience.
Flipping Camera Module
The selfie flip is quick enough, plus you get full manual control of that flip rotation, so if you ever want to create an uncomfortably tall panorama image that is also possible. Thanks to the flipping camera module you can create a 48MP selfie, which is quite impressive, but you probably don’t need that much detail in your face. The consistency of the photos is unfortunately kind of poor. For example, 48MP photos have higher saturation, but lowering the resolution to 12MP usually gives me better dynamic range and more consistent exposure. The wide angle lens delivers a very cool perspective, but detail and color information is vastly different compared to the the main lens. I feel like the new iPhone 11 ultra wide-angle camera has set a new standard of camera calibration, so they match each other in terms of color and detail, and only the field of view changes. That’s not the case with Zenfone 6, but for the price point the quality is totally passable and I’m fine with it.
The one thing that I would state is perfect on the Zenfone 6 is the battery life. The 5,000 mAh battery in this phone has been insanely impressive. With heavy usage such as gaming and watching videos at full brightness I’ve been getting more than six hours of screen usage. With lighter usage I got about four hours of screen time and the battery dropped to only 53%. This thing is ideal for power users, with two day battery life guaranteed, and even additional power savings and super saving battery modes available for crazy long standby times.
The software experience is also perfect. It is very much stock Android with the usual customization of the home screen layout and your icon packs. You can even enable multi-window mode, so watching YouTube while scrolling through social media is possible. There is also a grayscale mode that I like for reading, and if you want a little music while reading there is also an FM radio.
Since the beginning I’ve really enjoyed my time with the Zenfone 6. This brilliant flip camera setup really compliments the gorgeous notch-less display. It’s a two day battery life phone for sure, and the performance wise it is OnePlus level smooth. The main competitor right now at $599 USD – competing with the most expensive Zenfone 6 – would be the OnePlus 7T, which has a 90Hz display. That feature alone is totally worth it, but there’s a notch, no headphone jack, worse battery life, and people don’t seem to like the camera bump. All those shortcomings are what make the most expensive Zenfone 6 more attractive than the 7T, but frankly it’s the base $499 Zenfone 6 that we really recommend and it doesn’t really have any peers at that price point.